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length, through grief and anxiety, he fell into a raging fever. His mother attended upon him with the most affectionate assiduity, almost to the removal of his doubts; and especially as she seemed to consider his bereavement with a very moderate but sincere sorrow; whereas, to judge by the common rule, if she had disposed herself of the unhappy Englishwoman, she should have been constant and violent in her expressions of condolence.
In this manner several weeks passed away, Rovinello being very languid from his illness; at last, one day, after being more agitated than common, he desired to take an airing with his mother in her coach, and was observed to be particular in giving instructions to the driver as to his route. The man, attending to his commands with exactness, began to drive very slowly towards a certain spot, and at length stopped immediately in front of those terrible Lion's Heads of the Inquisition, which have heretofore swallowed so many secret denunciations. The Countess asking with some terror, why he lingered at that spot, "I am come here, mother," he said, "to await the result of a very curious speculation."
With these words, he rivetted his intense eyes upon those of the Countess, who very suddenly turned aside, and called out to the driver to go on; but the man remained still, according to the direction of Rovinello. The latter had now raised his lean hand to the coach window, and pointed to the gaping jaws that received the accusations.
"Mother," said he, pray fix your eye-balls stedfastly upon mine; and now tell me, have you never fed yonder cruel Lions?"
Hereupon, he looked stedfastly upon the eyes of the Countess, which seemed instantly to reel in their sockets, and her cheek turned as pale as ashes. Rovinello, convinced of the guiltiness of his mother by her looks, did not wait for any other confession, but plainly saw his lady, as though through the solid stone walls, in the dreary dungeons of the Inquisition. In the meantime, his hand had dropped from the window to his cloak, where he had concealed a small pistol, loaded with two balls; and setting the fatal engine against his heart, without another word he discharged it into his bosom, before the very eyes of his unnatural parent.
The servants getting down at the report, ran instantly to the door of the carriage, which was filled with smoke, so that at first they could not perceive the nature of the calamity; at length they discerned the Countess, leaning quite senseless against the back of the coach, her clothes bedabbled with blood, and the body of Rovinello stooping forward upon her knees. It was plain that he was quite dead, wherefore, placing the body upon a kind of litter, some of the people carried it home to the palace. The miserable Countess was driven back to the same place, where she continued for many hours in frantic transports of horror and remorse; and when she became calmer, it was only from her strength being so exhausted that she could neither rave nor writhe herself any longer. As for the confessor Landino, he was never suffered to abide an instant in her presence, though he made many such attempts,—the mere sight of him throwing the wretched Countess into the most frightful ecstasies.
Some days after the catastrophe of Rovinello, there was a procession through the streets of Venice, which excited a lively interest amongst all classes, being nothing less than the progress of certain wicked heretics to the stake, where they were to be burnt, in order that the Christian spirit might revive, like a Phoenix, out of the human ashes. There had not been a festival of this sort for some time before, so that the people prepared for it with great eagerness, all putting on their holiday clothes, and crowding into the streets, almost to their mutual suffocation; the day being very warm, but otherwise as fine and serene as could be desired for such a ceremony.
The number of the wretched criminals was nine, of whom there was one woman. Their heads were all shaved, and their feet bare, with fetters round the ankles and wrists of each person. They were dressed in long, yellow penitential robes, painted all over with fiery tongues, or flames, except on the back, where there was a large blood-red cross. Their caps were of the same colours, tall and pointed, in shape somewhat like extinguishers, though not intended for that use, and each of the wretches held in the left hand a lighted taper; though this part of the show was rather dimmed by the brightness of the noontide sun. Certain bare-headed friars walked by the side of the criminals, holding up the cross at every few paces before their melancholy eyes, and exhorting them to suffer patiently, and without any impieties, to which the doleful creatures made answer only by their boisterous lamentations.